"Black Thursday." That's the name we should use. The employees of the "big box" stores understand why Black Friday is a huge deal for the large retailers. What they're fighting is Black Friday's slide into Thursday -- into Thanksgiving.
When you think about it, Thanksgiving was, until recently, our only non-commercialized holiday. People have complained about the monetization of Christmas all my life. Halloween? Well, that was always the Devil's day. But Thanksgiving somehow remained semi-sacred -- a time for patriotism, family and calm reflection. Now we (and note that I say "we," not "they") are transforming Thanksgiving into the crassest day of the year.
I've heard from one Wal-Mart employee who tells me that she normally works a standard daytime shift beginning at 7 a.m. Her body clock is set for sleeping at night. Nevertheless, she will be forced to work "crowd control" beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday (the first day of "The Event") -- and the shift will last at least 13 hours.
That's simply unfair. And not a little dangerous, given some of the violent incidents that marked previous "Events."
This woman -- an eleven-year veteran of the company -- is now thinking of quitting. In fact, she has sent out resumes. So have a lot of the other Wal-Mart employees who have contacted me. Unfortunately, our economy has seen better days; even people with college degrees from good schools continue to send applications into Wal-Mart. Still, if all of the more intelligent and skilled workers transfer to other companies at the first opportunity, Wally World will increasingly be known as the place that hires only inarticulate dimwits who can't provide decent customer service.
For instance, Daniel Hindman, who has worked at the Paramount, Calif., Wal-Mart since 2008, says he will walk out Friday with 100 of the store’s roughly 130 associates, accompanied by at least five of the store’s 20 or so managers.
“Wal-Mart may try to bring in other workers at the last minute,” says Mr. Hindman. But those people will not know the stock “or even how to ring up items at a cash register,” he says.
Janna Pea, a spokeswoman for one of the workers' groups, adds that she expects some 1,000 of the roughly 4,000 chain stores to be hit with walkouts Friday.
Wal-Mart dismisses such claims. There are only a “handful of associates, at a handful of stores scattered across the country that are participating in these ... made-for-TV events,” says spokesman Kory Lundberg in an e-mail.
"Made-for-TV events"...? How condescending. Every time Wal-Mart spokespeople address employee grievances, they always sound like some southern sheriff in 1961 bewailing the "outside agitators" who came to rile up black people.
A final note: A lot of people consider Target (based out of Minnesota) more "liberal-friendly" than Wal-mart (based in Arkansas). But Target's company color is red, while Wal-Mart's is blue. Is there any way we can get them to switch...?
Target is also participating in the Thursday evening "event". I wrote to them when I found out and told them I was very disappointed in their decision. The responded that they had to compete with the other retailers.
I'll be staying home Thursday AND Friday.
posted by Pennelope Pennebaker : 10:25 AM
I turned it down this year but I was given the opportunity to work the Friday after Thanksgiving processing emergency orders. The rate would have been triple time as per our union contract. What about the employees at the stores doing Black Thursday, do they get any kind extra pay or bonus?
If Obama's NLRB quashes employees rights to collective bargaining by upholding Wal-Mart's request for an injunction it's one more indicator that he really is a republican.
posted by Mr. Mike : 11:39 AM
Our transformation from being "citizens" first to being "consumers" first is complete. A pox on anyone who shops on Thursday. Who really needs any of that crap anyway? What a waste of time. Our country deserves to be in decline. We have squandered our many blessings as a country and as citizens.
I have some returns I have been meaning to do at Target...and no plans for Thanksgiving.....hmmm-maybe I can help push it to a red Thurs with the returns. Will think it over.
posted by Anonymous : 3:14 PM
Anon, I think you missed the point. Either that, or you got the point and want to subvert it. If you return something on Thanksgiving, you are justifying the company's decision to make people work on that day.
Okay, I would like every one to just stop and think about what you're saying in this next saga of a war on [insert holiday name here]. What we are talking about are a bunch of contrived holidays that the government sanctions that not every one finds meaningful and that have come to express a really narrow view of a family celebration and time off work. All hospital and public safety workers have a 365 day, 24 hour, 7 day work week. I worked at a casino at one point and time I basically my 11 federal holidays could be taken at any time and all together. I don't do National Crass Consumerism Day at all so I'm always happy to work on xmas. The problem isn't with what specific days you have off .. it's with the idea that there's a narrow vision of what a holiday is, what it involves, and that it can't occur on any day but one government sanctioned day. All of this is BS.Stop shopping period and go do something valuable with your time and all of this crap goes away. PERIOD. NEVER shop at the places that abuse workers. PERIOD. I'm tired of every one singling at one fricking day for special attention when it's bigger than that. Not every one has to celebrate family time en masse on ONE stupid day. Make up your own fricking holidays and screw every one else's concept of them.
kat, I'm coming around to the position that people ought to target -- no pun intend -- the most abusive retailers with a generalized year-long boycott. Nevertheless, I still think that many lower-income people can't or won't boycott Wal-Mart altogether, yet might be willing to support a one day Thanksgiving boycott.
One step at a time, and all that.
As to your larger position regarding holidays: I think you're ignoring the wishes of the employees themselves. In that regard, how are you different from Wal-Mart management?
I've spoken to a number of these employees. They really want to stay home with their families on this day. They certainly don't want to work 14 hour shifts all through the night even though they normally do a day schedule.
I know full well that there are various professions that require one to work on T-day. My maternal grandfather had such a job. That's why, when my brother and I were growing up, our family Thanksgiving meals were served quite early in the day.
But until recently, people working low-wage retail jobs were not in that category.
If you think Thanksgiving and other American holidays deserve no special consideration, well, that's your right. That decision works for you.
But others see thhings differently. They have their own views on the value of spending Thanksgiving with the family. You should not attempt to dictate to them.
I certainly would not attempt to tell Tibetan Buddhists that they have no right to honor such holidays as Zamling Chisang and Lha-Bab Duchen and the Shoton Festival.
Incidentally, it seems that some people do worry about the Shoton Festival becoming commercialized. Perhaps we can agree on the need to get back to the true meaning of Shotun.
Dak is right in that some people are more than willing to work holidays ... if the rewards are there. First responders and LEO's are expected to show up if their schedule requires duty on a holiday and again they make above average wages.
So what do Big Box employees get?
Do they get time and a half or double time?
Do they get a bonus based on the amount of sales?
Or is it they just get to keep their job?
posted by Mr. Mike : 10:45 PM
Every one can honor whatever holiday that want to honor. That's not the point. The point is the government forcing all of us to recognize it and then the entire consumer industrial complex turns it into a free for all where you have to amass debt and exhaust yourself to experience it. Casino workers, hotel workers, and most cafe workers don't have holidays off either. The deal is you bargain for which days in your big old basket of days that you want off and every gets to have their own concept of a special day. The deal is that the minute they can define and commercialize the holiday, we are ALL victims. Close the wallets and this conflict goes away. People buy crap to celebrate holidays is what created this monster. No other country that I know of has this issue.
Close the wallet to Walmart and they will go away. The stores will shrivel up and die.
You need to work to buy food and shelter. You dont need a flat screen TV or a 3-d TV.
The Repiblicans have long said "Starve the beast". I agree - except I think we should starve another beast.
I think virtue lies in not consuming. Surprise the economists - dont consume.
posted by Anonymous : 8:00 AM
If I had to work tomorrow and Friday I would be thankful I had a job.
posted by Anonymous : 9:22 AM
I'm inclined to agree with Kat.......but, most of my loved ones don't. They find holidays to be "tradition" and they are happy with them being placed where they are on the calender. Sadly, not everyone is as "radical" as us. I know that the concept Kat is talking about is not really all that radical, but it is to a lot of people. My mother would be appalled at the idea of no national Thanksgiving day or Christmas day. For myself, Thanksgiving day is a reminder of how we nearly wiped out an entire people to create this "great" nation of ours. I wonder if native Americans celebrate it and how they feel about it. It's supposedly symbolizes how they helped the settlers survive the winter here. They were repaid with slaughter and disease (not immediately, of course).
Anyway, in a capitalist society, there is no way to escape the consumerism. Sure, some people will shun it (most of here, probably), but how do you convince the majority of the country to do this? Most people couldn't tell you why the holidays need to be on specific days but try to change it and they will come out in their masses to oppose you.
posted by Gus : 11:25 AM
I am one of the people Joseph is writing about. And typically I would agree that you can celebrate a holiday any day you really wish. There are those who are willing to work holidays, and then there are those who go into a field knowing that holidays must be sacrificed for the greater good of safety and man.
Retail is NOT one of very important holidays that we MUST remain open for.
When it comes to respect for our troops, our air traffic controllers, our hospital staffs, etc, there are few who have greater respect for them than I. They do important jobs that keep the US running.
But seriously, retail is NOT one of those occupations.
Walmart is forcing me to work. Yes, I am outing myself as an employee there, but WILL remain anonymous as I do fear for the loss of my near minimum wage job as it is the only one I have - and do not dare to tell me to dimply get another job; searching for another job has been a second job for me.
Walmart did not ask if I wanted to. It was forced upon me. I am scheduled for a 12 hour shift. Yes, I get time and a half. But I would rather spend time with my family, who conveniently have Thanksgiving off as well. Odd how that works.
posted by Anonymous : 11:29 AM
Continued from above.
Imagine my surprise to learn from Fox News that I am "excited" to work this holiday.
Ummmm, no. Not remotely.
To be fair, I have it easy. I work the distribution line for the "on sale" tablet that bears the logo of a certain fruit. It is not even that good of a deal. But I am sure that when my event goes live, hundreds of mindless consumer zombies will be scrambling to grab at my tickets.
My co-worker (and family member) however, does not have so easy. She is working crowd control. Outside. For 14 hours (okay, yes, she gets lunches, but seriously... 14 hours? In late-Novemeber?)
The hubris of Walmart to circulate the notion they are simply responding to the wants and wishes of the customer is equally ridiculous. Walmart created this monster. They created the wishes and desires for an extra buck at the expense of low wage monkeys like me... and greedy consumers like you. To remain "competitive", Target, K-Mart, et el had to follow suit.
Oh... another "perk" of working this holiday. I get an extra 10% off one transaction between specified days and times.
Yeah. That's worth it.
I just want my day with my family.
posted by Anonymous : 11:30 AM
Anon @ 8:29, of course Fox and the other news media outlets will tell Joe Consumer you are ecstatic to be trampled by a mob on a National Holiday. They depend on advertizing so reporting the store employees plight of being forced to work might put off a few consumers thus lowering sales.